Here is our story of joining the 5-day trail of Astungkara Way. Immerse into the nature, and went home fulfilled with positivity.
Who is Astungkara Way
Astungkara Way was formed during covid when Bali especially was suffering. Many locals lost their jobs in tourism and had to go home to their villages and support themselves through farming. “Astungkara” means “hope” in Balinese, and this is exactly what their mission is – to bring hope to the generations of farmers, bring hope to boost eco-friendly farming practices and bring hope to a more sustainable Bali.
5-day trail – The Heart of Bali
The trails are an invitation to slow down, take notice, and connect with nature and local Balinese communities that live in simple, sustainable ways. The 5-day trail is one of the experiences Astungkara Way offers, taking you through The Heart of Bali, and giving you the chance to connect with the island. The trail consists of walking, sleeping in nature, eating local and traditional food, learning about Balinese culture, and many other activities.
At 7 am we met with the organizers, guides and fellow pilgrims that we were going to spend 5 days with. While eating breakfast we had an introduction to the 5 days ahead of us and got to know each other. Our group represented 5 different nationalities and an age gap of around 40 years, which really shows you that this experience is for everyone! After a ceremony, asking the Gods of Bali for permission and protection during the trail, we embarked on the first 8 km walk.
Our first destination was a beautiful water temple, where we did a water purification ritual – the perfect activity after an active day. The experience was very calming and beautiful. Later in the afternoon, we visited a local family to learn about their generations of craftsmanship, weaving bamboo baskets. We got to weave a basket ourselves to bring home, reminding us of Bali. At nightfall, we cuddled up in our beds consisting of a mattress, pillow, blanket, and mosquito net, and fell asleep to the sounds of nature. The perfect end to the day.
The alarm was set for 5 am so that we could embark on the 20 km trail of the day at sunrise. This morning was one to remember forever. Waking up to the chirping of the birds and the fresh air made it easy to jump out of bed and seize the day. At sunrise, the hard-working farmers were already working in the rice fields, and every person we met greeted us with a sweet “Selamat Pagi”, as we enjoyed the pink and orange colours of the sky while walking through the rice fields.
The trails become even more beautiful as you make your way through Bali, and this trail was no different. The time flew by as we walked and chatted about life, and also enjoyed the peace and quiet of nature. We had several water and snack breaks during the day, and we made it to our destination before 1 pm the next day, so we avoided most of the strong heat and midday sun. Our home for the day was an absolutely magical place with amazing food, staff, local produce and really nice facilities. A hot shower is appreciated after 20 km of walking in the tropical climate!
The night was spent visiting the owner of the accommodation’s family house, where he explained to us all about how his family lives and their traditions. It was such an insightful afternoon and we learned so much about Balinese culture. We even had a cooking class, making a traditional Balinese spice blend and creating several amazing local specialties from it. Before day 2 came to an end we all shared a lovely dinner and were surprised with a massage. After 20 km of walking this was the BEST. We then settled in for the night, already many experiences richer.
The next morning we slept until 6:30, having a slow morning with homemade hot chocolate and traditional breakfast dishes (which were sooo good!). The trail of day 3 was a mere 10 km which took us 3 hours. It only felt like 1 hour though, because this trail was so fun, taking us through rice terraces and mountainous terrain. As you can imagine, the views were spectacular!
We arrived at our destination, another one of Astungkara Ways’ partners. This sweet, young couple had learned everything about eco-friendly farming and wow, their farm was amazing with so many fruits, veggies, leafy greens, herbs and more! Especially the fruits they served us were unbelievably good – pineapple, snake fruit, the best passion fruits we’ve ever tried, tamarillo, and other fruits that are grown locally in this part of Bali. This was another heartwarming experience, as we learned about their life on the farm, as they served us the most delicious meals, and as we got to know them. Another day came to an end and another night was spent in the fresh air, to the sounds of nature.
We started the day with another 5 am wake-up call since we had a BIG day in front of us. 21 km through bamboo forest, jungle and last but not least rainforest. The beauty of the rainforest and jungle was so diverse, and it was a magical place, giving you the feeling of being in another world. This trail was more adventurous than the others we had walked, with more challenging terrain. This was a fun challenge though and everyone, no matter our age and physical condition, finished the trail in 8-9 hours, together, happy and tired. Therefore, we were overwhelmed with joy when we arrived at our last destination to be greeted with hot food baths, pancakes and fresh ginger tea.
Since it had been a long day, no activities were planned for the afternoon, so we could all have some well-deserved rest. For dinner, the lovely hosts of our accommodation had prepared a special Balinese celebration dinner, which we enjoyed to the fullest. After dinner, we proceeded to talk about our experience and what we had loved and learned from the past 4 days. This was such a beautiful moment of gratitude and love, and we got a little emotional since our trip was coming to an end. We ended up playing cards and talking for hours, drinking tea and eating pancakes. This night was one for the books and one that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. It was a big culmination of the family-like friendships we had formed with the fellow pilgrims, guides and organizers during the nearly 5 full days we had spent together. It was such a special night.
Our last day had arrived, and the vibes were high as we started the day with dancing instead of stretching. Our last trail was about 7 km long, so we walked at a slow pace, enjoying the nature around us and each other’s company. As we walked the trail through Monduk, we saw waterfalls, mountains, and wide flower plantations. Our final destination was an eco-friendly local restaurant & coffee plantation located right next to a breathtaking waterfall. Way to end the trail on a high note!
The owners of the restaurant took us on a walk through the plantation where we learned about the coffee, replantation, and how the Luwak coffee is ethically produced at their plantation. We also harvested lots of fresh herbs that would go into our lunch, which we helped prepare using local methods. We of course enjoyed some Bali Coffee and Luwak Coffee meanwhile! After lunch and exploring the waterfall, we had one last activity on the itinerary; the last ceremony. This ceremony was held in the temple by the waterfall, and we thanked the Gods of Bali for getting us through Bali safely and allowing us to experience their lovely home. It was a really special ceremony, summarizing the past 5 days, and appreciating everything we had seen and learned. We left feeling happy and content and thankful.
Our experience walking through The Heart of Bali
Being in nature for 5 days is a unique chance to disconnect, reflect and appreciate, and that is exactly what we did. Even though we have travelled far and wide through Bali, this trip gave us a deeper connection with and understanding of the culture, the local’s way of living, their religious practices, the food they eat – the foundation of Bali.
While walking 70 km through the heart of Bali we saw a lot of breathtaking nature, varying from rice terraces to mountains, jungle and rainforest, waterfalls, local villages and much more. And every single part was magical.
The food was a true highlight of the trip. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices were harvested at each location and turned into amazing local and traditional dishes. Everything we had was so tasty, healthy and authentic, and it was a great chance to dig deeper into the culinary heritage of Bali while benefiting the local farmers.
Though Bali has a lot of amazing travel experiences to offer, not many of these allow you to truly get in touch with the real Bali and the local people. This one does. Astungkara Way has built strong bonds with the local farmers, the generations of knowledge and the cultural and culinary heritage, and we had the chance to take part in that. After the trail, we are left with a feeling of gratitude and a much bigger understanding and appreciation of Bali.
Astungkara Way is changing the face of tourism in Bali. Their experiences connect people with the culture and the people of Bali while benefiting local economies, culture and ecosystems. Moreover, they are fighting climate change with regenerative agriculture, which they are teaching and implementing around Bali. We are so thankful for an organization that provides not only amazing experiences and memories for life but also has a positive impact.
Astungkara Way offers different trekking experiences, varying from 2 days to 10 days. We would be keen to try the 10-day trail on another occasion, walking from one coast of Bali to the other! They offer not only trails but also farm experiences, for those who want to connect with Astungkara Way’s beautiful agenda but might not have 2, 5 or 10 days to walk through Bali. You can either try their half-day farm tour, an overnight stay at their beautiful farm, or a weekend experience from Friday to Sunday.
It is hard to summarize this Astungkara Way experience since it was very impactful in so many ways. So we urge you to join Astungkara Way to connect with our favourite island, Bali, and experience it for yourself.
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